Ezergailis, Andrew: Nazi / Soviet Disinformation about the Holocaust in Latvia


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”Andrew Ezergailis’ book is a detailed analysis of a malicious and deceptive KGB propaganda pamphlet of the 1960s that probably worked better than its pseudonymous authors had dared to hope. What is even more surprising is its reception among Holocaust scholars and prosecutors of Nazi crimes in the West. That it was written as propaganda should have been clear even to a non-specialist. Its rhetorical tone saturated with pathos-ridden vocabulary; its almost non-existent verifiable documentation; and its singular aim to smear Latvians, especially war veterans, living in the West, should have been giveaways. They were not. As a result, a number of court cases were tried in the USA, Germany and Canada, most of which ended in acquittals. On the basis of his extensive knowledge of the subject, Andrew Ezergailis points out how the KGB booklet fed on and exaggerated stereotypes established by Nazi propaganda about the Holocaust in Eastern Europe as a spontaneous collective anti-Semitic outbreak by the local populations. By pinning the blame on others, the Nazis hid their own well-designed secret plans, behind-the-scenes manipulations and actions to carry out mass murder. As a former Nazi propagandist, the real author of the booklet, Pauls Ducmanis, was well qualified to adapt pernicious Nazi disinformation to KGB ends and make Latvians appear to be worse Nazis than the real Nazis. Ezergailis does not exonerate Latvians whom the Germans recruited to carry out the mass murder. However, he points out that the organized mass murder was a German plan carried out under German guidance and supervision and that the Wehrmacht, the German Sicherheitsdienst and the Einsatzgruppen were responsible. He likewise rejects insidious wholesale Soviet linkage of the so-called Latvian Police Battalions and the Latvian Legion to the crimes of the Holocaust.”


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